Category: Meanings of Baby Names
By Kara Blakley
We recently ran Kara‘s suggestions for subtly connecting girl siblings’ names. Now it’s the boys’ turn.
Matthew/Levi. Matthew is an American staple, spending decades in the Top 20, reaching as high as Number 2 in the 90s. But if, at Number 16, Matthew is still too popular for you, or if you want to honor a friend without directly repeating the name, consider Levi. Levi was the biblical Matthew‘s given name before becoming an apostle, hence the connection. Matthew McConaughey named his firstborn Levi for this reason in 2008.
Peter/Simon. Like Matthew and Levi, Peter and Simon share a biblical connection: the first pope was born Simon before Jesus nicknamed him Peter, meaning ‘rock’. Simon, perennially popular in Europe, has never been as common as Peter here, which makes it prime for Americn usage. Simone and Petra are attractive feminizations that also deserve wider use.
By Kara Blakley
Twin names and honor names are some of the hottest topics on the Nameberry forums.
Some folks like a direct approach, sticking with a shared first initial or passing down identical names from one generation to the next. Others like a more subtle approach. For the subtle crowd, I like the idea of ‘cognate’ names: names that are either the direct meaning of a name (e.g., Margaret means pearl), or names that share a meaning. These names can add a subtle connection between siblings or generations, or alternatively, they might be names you want to avoid using in the same combination.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
In the seventeenth century, for some of the most puritanical of the Puritans, even biblical and saints’ names were not pure enough to bestow on their children, and so they turned instead to words that embodied the Christian virtues. These ranged from extreme phrases like Sorry-for-sin and Search-the-Scriptures (which, understandably, never came into general use) to simpler virtue names like Silence and Salvation.
The virtue names that have survived in this country were for the most part the unfussy, one-syllable girls’ names with positive meanings, such as Joy, Hope, Grace and Faith. But then, in the late 1990s, a door was opened to more elaborate examples by the popularity of the TV show Felicity, and its appealing heroine. Felicity (also the name of an American Girl Colonial doll) reached a high point on the girls’ list in 1999, a year after the show debuted, leading parents to consider others long forgotten relics.
Here are the Nameberry picks of the twelve best virtue names:
- Amity—like all the virtue names ending in ity, Amity has an attractive daintiness combined with an admirable meaning—in this case, friendship. It could be a modernized (or antiquated, depending how you look at it) namesake for an Aunt Amy.
- Clarity—we like it much better than Charity or—oh no—Chastity. And Clare makes a nice short form.
- Clemency—Clemency, the name of a character in one of Charles Dicken’s lesser known Christmas novellas, The Battle of Life, can be seen as an offbeat alternative to Clementine.
- Constance was originally used in a religious context which has been lost over the years. There are many Constances found in history and literature: there was Constance of Brittany, mother of young Prince Arthur who appears in Shakespeare’s King John, a daughter of William the Conqueror, and characters in Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer and Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. Constance hasn’t been much heard in the 21st century—probably because of the dated nickname Connie. The Puritans also used Constant.
People often talk about choosing a name with “meaning”, and I feel that nature names can have meaning for everyone. They can help to give us a spiritual connection to the world around us, a respect for the power and beauty that surrounds us.
Normally, when we talk of nature names people think of names like River, Willow and Lily – nature words that are also used as names. But nature names can be so much subtler and diverse than that. So instead of breaking them down by the usual categories such as trees, flowers, animals, gemstones etc., I thought I’d look at them in a slightly different way.